BEING A PRACTICAL, POSITIVE & POWERFUL MENTOR

Have you ever been stuck in a situation not knowing which way to turn? Or maybe you tried various ways already, but still not moving forward much? My guess is the answer is probably yes. Most of us, if not all, have experienced the proverbial brick wall at some point in time.

A read from Jeffrey Hayzlett’sTop 3 Traits of a Good Mentor, enticed me to write this post. He makes a great point, or three, about what it is and should be like to have someone guide you along your way to move forward.

TO SEEK

It took me around 20 years of grinding behind a desk for someone/some company to realise that the 9 to 5 culture isn’t as satisfying as it should be. I did realise though that I was extremely lucky to gain an enormous amount of experience over time. Moving from one position to another during the years I was able to take with me any new found learnings and enhance the next position.

Therefore when I finally left the building for the last time on a sunny day in London, I knew that it will be a huge mistake to just sit on the information I have within me. Something had to be done about it hence Mentoring became a focus point. To quote Jeffrey: “Good mentors are always willing to share what they know - with anyone who asks". Moving forward a couple of years and I am blessed to be in a situation where I am being given great opportunities to lend a hand and help others

TO SHARE 

My bible of experience covers a fair amount of different topics related to being in a business environment. It is not that difficult to assist mentees with various issues they’re experiencing.  As a person whom constantly broaden his horizons regarding new aspects of what makes the world go round, all questions can be tackled and answers can be delivered. 

For instance, Social Media Management is a serious topic of discussion. For the generation that did not grow up with it, it is overwhelming. There are quite a lot of people that have little understanding of how it works. They also are amazed by the fact that online platforms can be used as a great marketing tool. This may sound strange to many, but as I always look at situations from my clients’ perspective, it makes total sense. 

On the other side of the scale, the younger generation of mentees struggle with a marketing strategy or even their online reputation even though they fully know how to handle social media platforms on a personal level. Again, a topic that can easily be explained and a strategy can be put in place. Being on social media as yourself differs from being there as your business brand

TO SUPPORT 

All aspects of Mentoring is exciting, but one part that stands out is the initial research or investigation surrounding a new mentee prior to the first meeting. Looking around the web for their social visibility gives one a great insight into how they think. That is, if they have an online persona. Contrary to popular belief there are people around who shy away from being electronically social

The starting point usually is around what is already out there (or not) for all to see. Starting with each existing section from visual presence (avatars, videos, photos, etc.) right through to the writing of posts and/or captions. As an outsider it is easy to pick out spelling mistakes or layout issues - not to mention the phycological effect colours can have on readers.  

Feedback is easy to give - however, it is completely useless without any valuable input. Again, Jeffrey is 100% correct: “A good mentor is further willing to provide concrete and constructive feedback”.

As always, looking at the evidence should be from the mentee’s point of view. After all, the website or social feed is not the mentor’s so it should not be about you and how you want it, but what will work best for the mentee’s brand. Mentoring is about helping and giving advice. If there is the need for introducing new learning curves, the Coach in me will take over - but let’s leave that skill aside for another post.

Continued support is most of the time wanted by my mentees. A request that fill myself with excitement and warmth. And much appreciation. 

CONCLUSION

To be able to distribute what one has learned can only be described as one of the best and satisfying aspects of life. 

On a personal level it:

  • broaden insights 

  • cultivate relationships

  • awoke mutual feelings of respect

  • create being seen as an expert 

  • makes one an influencer

  • allows one be a contributor 

Giving branding and/or marketing advice it most certainly doesn’t matter that much which niche/field in the market the mentee is in. What matters is to master their needs so they better themselves and their brand. At the end of the day, one is not expected to know their market inside out - one is required to guide and lend a helping hand. 

Mentoring has opened so many doors for me and the believe is that it honestly will open many more in the future. This part of being an Entrepreneur is what drives me forward. The only downside, if one can call it that, is always saying yes when a potential mentee knocks on your door and asks for help. Then again, one always has time. There is no such thing as being too busy - prioritize your workload is all it takes to have a full, productive business and life.

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. Don’t hesitate to reach me here, or on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook and Instagram.

And most of all… Thank You for reading.

PRESENT YOUR BRAND WITH PRIDE

‘What is the fatal flaw that prevents Brand Consistency when it comes to visual posts?’ This question from John Lim (@bemovingforward) whilst promoting my appearance as a guest on his podcast, sparked me to get you an answer. 

With workloads and to do lists as long as an arm, it is no wonder that many of us buckle under the weight and let our guard slip. Especially when it comes to being active within the various social media platforms. It’s understandable that between searching for projects, chasing payments and living a life, etc., something has to give

THE DOWNFALL

Unfortunately, the area in which we should not be lazy is how our Brand is being presented where everyone can see it. I would like to particularly focus on the many platforms where we post articles, blogposts, quotes and much more – yes, it’s none other than on Social Media. 

What is your main focus when it comes to being visible on Social Media? Everyone will yell content at me and they will be correct. Next, I will get bombarded with shouts of engagement and that will be followed by video, I’m sure. None of these are wrong, bad suggestions or irrelevant what so ever. In all honesty, nothing can be any closer to the truth. 

THE FEELING OF DROWNING 

Overwhelmed. Snowed under. Completely buried. Do these sounds like phrases/words that you would use to describe how you feel about Social Media many times? Not uncommon to even experience anxiety about it all. 

The question now is, what are you going to do about it? Or are you actually just going to let it be and you will struggle forth. Moving forward without tackling this issue, is definitely not a great idea. Actually, it is a very bad move on your part. So how can you elevate at least some of the stress?

THE BRICK WALL

For many this is the bit that is the cause of all the angst. Not only because you cannot be bothered about it too much, but for many, because you don’t actually know how to deal with it correctly. I am referring to the visually creative part of your posts.

Not all of us are graphic designers. Neither are we top notch photographers. To be honest, I bet many of you will say ‘I don’t even have a creative bone in my body’ when asked about this topic. 

Not having any inclination towards a creative eye is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. Crikey, we are just human. 

I gather the obvious solution that immediately springs to your mind, is that of hiring a professional to look after your Brand Creatives. Easy - issue solved, right? Well, not for wanting to burst your bubble, that is easier said than done. There is one particular issue with that solution: costs. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have funds available so you can reach out to a professional designer and have all your creatives done in a flash. However, if like me, you most likely are counting the pennies carefully before you spend left, right and centre. 

THE HELPING HAND

A solution is at hand that can help to minimise this one section of your media activity. It is within your reach to cast aside your fear of being creative. You don’t have to show the world your inability of creating visuals that do not sit well within the parameters of Social Media platforms. 

Not all platforms have the same criteria when it comes to posting images. Luckily there are some platforms that share the same dimensions for images. If all were the same, then we won’t have any issues. The crux lies within fact that we should be able to post visuals with the correct size. 

It is here where many, in my opinion, show the lack of pride for their Brand. To post the same size image everywhere will show your lack of care and also prevent your visual to not be seen in its entirety. Hence so many times an important thought/section will go unseen purely because it is not visible completely. 

The secret, although not such a big secret at all, is using a very clever application (app). There is one for me that stands out head and shoulders above the rest. 

THE UNCOMPLICATED ASSISTANT

Having a mobile device is order of the day nowadays. It is designed to make our lives easier and to have at hand at all times. The App mentioned above is available on Mobile Devices (via a download from your mobile provider’s choice of store) and on your Desktop (again, to download via your Internet Providers’ choice of store). 

I am referring to the very useful Adobe Spark Post application. Having this handy App(lication) on your device and/or computer will definitely lend a hand when you want to spice up your post with a stunning visual. Very often we come across a thought or quote that we want to share with our audience. We also realise that it will perform so much better if it is accompanied by an image.  We are after all, constantly made aware that platforms favour posts with visuals. 

No need to neglect your wish anymore. Within a few short actions you can rest assure that your visual will be visible to many others the way the chosen platform intend it to be. 

THE TIME TO EXECUTE

Even as a non-creative human using the Adobe Spark Post application is easy. The simple menu layout of options can quickly be navigated to what you have in mind. Here are the options to create an original post if you don’t want to use some of the App’s templates. 

  •  BACKGROUND 

    For this you have 8 options - from using one of your original photos, or a plain colourful background (a Palette lets you keep your Branding in place by adjusting it to your Brand’s colour tones) through to a stock image.   

  •  TEXT

    10 options available which includes a selection of fonts (to keep your Brand consistent with your designated Brand font), colour (to align with your Brand’s look&feel), the size, spacing, opacity and many more. 

  •  LAYOUT

    An abundance of choices if there need to be more than one image within your post visual.

  •  EFFECTS

    To animate certain parts of your visual are at your fingertip (on your mobile device) or your desktop cursor. 

  •  RESIZE

    This option here is where the magic takes place. 35 options at a tap or click to choose from. Each has the Social Media Platform icon so there is not a single moment wasted figuring out which option will fit perfectly. It’s as easy as Bish Bash Bosh! 

These are the basics within the app. The desktop version has a slightly different layout to it all, but the principals are the same. It will honestly not take you long to find your way around and with regular use you will master it in no time. 

THE CONCLUSION

This very helpful app is easily the one mostly in use by yours truly. On numerous times I have used it whilst having a quick coffee on the go or during a commercial break while I am watching some show on TV. There are obviously many similar applications to choose from however, this one is by far my favourite.  

Originally, I had to consult my notes for the exact image dimensions to fit each platform I was creating a visual for. It took time and a lot of messing about to get it right. All of which added up and before you know it, I was wasting way too much time for my liking. We are all aware time is of essence therefor I was delighted to come across something that can not only enhance my visuals, but also cut down on my precious time. All in all, using this shortcut creates not only much satisfaction (for being creative!), it also leaves me with pride as I present my Brand to one and all out there in perfect shape.

Feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you can relate to this post. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

And Thank You for reading.

BOOST YOUR BRANDING

The question is: does Your Branding have any magic? Or to put it differently… does Your Branding have the Unicorn touch?

However peculiar this comparison may sound to you there is a lot of sense within using the Unicorn metaphor within a branding connotation. It’s here where you most likely want me to start explaining, right? 

I was so fascinated by reading a post on the websiteRise Above the Noise by David Brier, that it inspired me to write this post. The man is seriously a genius when it comes to branding. If branding is part and parcel of your existence, then please do yourself a favour and check him out on his site

YOUR EXISTING BRANDING

Let’s set the scene. You personally and/or your company have been branded when you started out. Fact is you are at a point now where you’re not entirely happy with the current status of the branding. You have been tinkering with the idea to do something about it. Perhaps you’ve been made aware about a competitor’s recent re-brand or a Startup that is directly in competition with you that has a much better Brand Look&Feel than yours. 

To tie in with the Unicorn touch mentioned earlier, we can continue metaphorically speaking and suggest that your current branding is very much horse-like – meaning it’s strong, does the job, but lack a certain je ne sais quoi. So, if the thought entered your mind that it is not working that well, then it’s time to put some major sparkle into Your Branding. 

There are many ways to put some sparkle into everyday things in life. For instance, take a weather-bashed garden chair… give it a lick of paint and voilà! Therefore, if it is not that difficult to boost an object and give it some new life, then why not do the same with Your Branding.

A CHANGE IS A GOOD THING

There is that age-old saying a change is as good as a holiday which I’m sure you’ve heard before. Personally, and speaking from experience, I can guarantee you it is true. Applying that wisdom to your current branding is not that difficult. As a matter of fact, it is much easier than you think. You will though need the input from a professional to make the magic happens.

There is, however, a very good reason behind me saying this – and that is that once you’ve updated Your Brand it could easily propel itself to a much higher, influencer level. Your product and/or service will be able to attract much more customers' interest than currently. The outcome could mean the difference between being adequate and incredible. Your company ROI will most likely hit the roof and, as I’m sure you’ll agree, that can only be a great thing all around.

You proud yourself as a savvy business person. You believe you have the vision to move your company forward. Why stop when it comes to how your company is perceived by the big, wide world? 

ADD A SPECIAL TOUCH

This is where you should definitely take a look at David’s presentation and it will make complete sense to you. 

He showcases 14 Brands that he literally transformed into major successful entities. The transformations are amazing. Although I call him The Brand Master, I hope that he will agree it wasn’t rocket science as such what he applied – rather common sense and great thinking, or design, so to speak.

Turning your Horse into a White Creature (aka Unicorn) totally depends and comes down to the magic you inject into your current branding. But where to begin, I hear you ask. 

It starts with: 

  • your logo,

  • then your typography

  • next is your design

  • and finally, the execution (via the website and/or your packaging)

In other words, we’re talking the whole yarn. 

Not suggesting that you should copy your competitors, but I believe doing some in-depth research into what is out there in your niche of business is the order of the day. Take time to look closely at how your peers made changes. Study their thought process and do your best to figure out what they have done to excel ahead of you. Then get going and start the process to add some magic to Your Own Branding. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to stand out from the crowd, or as David says… Rise Above The Noise! 

CONCLUSION

Being a Brand Guardian is one of the aspects of my Entrepreneurial life. Reading and following remarkable people like David is truly inspirational. Whilst reading his astounding post, it made me realise one very important aspect: obviously, I am by no means even close to his level, but the fact that he is so good at what he’s doing doesn’t put me off and want to stop doing what I do. When you are confronted with such insane talent it is really easy to throw in the towel and walks away. Me? Most definitely not. 

I’ve been so intrigued by Mr Brier for some time now, that I have been following him on various social media platforms. He is so consistent with delivery content at a high level that instead of me getting deflated by it all, I find him to be a massive motivation for my journey. I do perceive him as a Virtual Mentor. One can only demand of oneself to aspire to such a high level in time to come. 

Keeping within the Unicorn-theme… only a few days ago, another Virtual Mentor of mine, Winnie Sun, put an incredible post on her Twitter feed. It totally made my head spin and within seconds I had a wonderful imagery in my mind… this is what she posted:

I believe we should all be so proud of our personal and/or business branding, that witnessing what others in our field are doing should spur us on to have even better branding tomorrow than what we’re having today. Do yourself and your team (if you have one) a favour and put some Sparkle Into Your Branding. Make it shimmer & shine and let the branding attracts customers like a moth to a flame. I personally believe we all can do with a bit of magic in our personal lives - the same belief goes for any Company. 

Feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you can relate to this post. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

And Thank You for reading. 

LET’S DO IT LIVE

Ever felt like extending your brand? There are many ways to enhance your professional identity. One way in particular is to lend a hand at Live Events. There is something very exciting about events. Most probably because when it all kicks off it is Live. From then until the end anything can happen. Of course fingers are crossed all along for everything to go as planned without any gremlins jumping in and course havoc.

Very recently the opportunity came about to assist with a Charity Ball in London. Without a nano second of hesitation it was agreed to add the brand development touch to this event.

THE VENUE

The location was in one of London’s superb landmarks: The Savoy Hotel on the North Bank of the Thames River. With areas like Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square a stone throw away it basically is in the heart of London.

This venue is nothing new since a fair amount of events have been arranged and/or attended there in the past. However, it is always great to step into the splendour of this establishment. From the exterior through the revolving doors into the plush interior one feels almost elevated. There is the feeling of being transferred into another world even if it means the world you step into is that of the rich and famous. Walls are plastered with stunning black and white photographs of legends like film stars and politicians. These date back decades. Just an indication that this iconic venue has seen it all. And will most certainly see more in the times to come.

THE SET UP

The hotel’s Ball Room was the chosen area for the night. It all started early in the morning with equipment arriving and crews starting to set up. There was going to be a live show with famous talent at the end of the evening. Quite a bunch of very friendly, professional and organised people started to set up the stage, plug this that and the other cables into big, electronic machinery. Microphones were being set up, tested and adjusted. Instruments were placed in precise spots on the stage and before you know it the stage was set. The only missing ingredients were musicians, backing vocals and of course the star of the show.

Setting up the entertainment side of the event is obviously only one part of the day’s procedures. While that was happening a total of 32 round tables were being prepared. Each will hold 10 guests which needed every possible piece of cutlery, crockery and glasses. Sparkling white, starched table cloths and napkins were placed perfectly and was accompanied by buffed silverware, glassware and shiny porcelain. There is always the need for a centre piece - and for this event there was no exception.  Flower arrangements were going to be the pièce de résistance on the night. Nothing outrageous and too big, but elegant enough to make an impact and still let guests see each other across the table and talk the night away. Obviously the colour scheme of the charity's brand was extended into the chosen flora. 

Behind the scenes, or more appropriately called The Kitchen, chefs and staff were busy with preparations for a delightful meal. There was a lot of chopping, stirring and trays going in and coming out of ovens. The activities were in full swing to feed a few hundred people. The menu was tasted and agreed on before hand so all that was left to do is prepare and eventually serve up. 

THE EVENT

Before you knew it, the doors opened to welcome elegant guests. Men in Black Tie and women sporting Ball Gowns were order of the night. Soon the room was filled with people, laughter and a great atmosphere. The serious side of the night, an auction, was taking place in between the servings of delicious food. The main point of the event was to raise money for the charity. Left, right and centre people dug deep into their wallets and a phenomenal amount of money was raised. Once the singer/songwriter performed his last song while all the guests were standing and dancing, it was revealed that the immediate amount raised extended well into 6 figures. All in all a major successful evening. 

AND THEN... GOOD NIGHT

Not bad for a day’s work. Fairly exhausted, but happy, one flops down on a plush hotel room bed in the early hours of the morning.  A good night’s sleep is now on the cards. Nothing is more exciting knowing that once again the client is happy. Not only with the amount of money raised, but with the execution of their event too. 

Back home, it’s time now to write that follow up email. Perhaps the reply will include another date for another event… fingers crossed.

 

COMMERCIAL BRANDING DURING THE FESTIVE SEASON

Has another year gone by? Is it that time of the year again? Judging by the fall in temperatures and darkened early evening skies in the northern hemisphere we can safely say ‘yes’ to that question!

With the festive season upon us and Christmas decorations going up everywhere it’s not just time for families and friends to get together and plan a feast, but also time for brands (local and internationally) to step up their campaign strategies and start the battle to win the ‘top spot of the season’ in the advertising world. There are clear trend setters in the world showing us every year how creative they can get. The messages these short films send out are usually made to tuck on our heart strings and get our emotions moving. In my opinion most, if not all, are usually winners. 

                         Someone's lucky day is coming...

This year though I stumbled across a great piece of work from Spain - a country which I love - being it mainland or Balearic Islands. As a true lover of ‘all things Spanish’ I was delighted when I saw the Christmas Lottery commercial - the ‘Anuncio Loteria de Navidad’. I know about this special lottery event since I visited Barcelona many times in the run up to Christmas. It is an event that grip the nation and even if one is not Spanish and have little Spanish vocabulary it is not rocket science to figure out how important this event is for the Spaniards. There are many kiosks all over the place that sells tickets. And if you are lucky enough to be in town a few days or so before Christmas you will witness the queues buying some ‘numbers’ in hope they have the winning combination.

This year the lottery has a remarkable advertisement that is created very crafty and is very imaginative. Not only is the story very touching it is also executed beautifully. The style in which the creativity enfolds is superb. With enormous time spend on details within every frame it also is colourful and you find yourself smiling occasionally. It obviously won’t be as good as it is if you don’t get emotionally involved. Here the creators took time to make sure you follow the story behind the main character Justino’s everyday life. The build up to the end makes you want to fast forward quickly to see the outcome yet it also prevent you from clicking those double-arrows since Justino’s story is so compelling. The end, needless to say, is pure jubilation! 

Anuncio Loteria de Navidad’ leaves you with a warm, happy feeling. Even if there is a hint of a tear in your eye you will soon be overcome with merry emotions. All in all the perfect Christmas ‘heart-string-tucker’ for me! 

Feliz Navidad to one and all… or Merry Christmas in the universal language of the world! 

 

CREATING WEBSITES FOR HYH MANAGEMENT

What was next on my to-do list for HYH Management? ‘It’s not rocket science what we need next, right?’ was put to me.

And if I thought that’s the only question to address immediately I was wrong! It just happened that one of the artists managed by HYH was in need of website too. Therefore it was double sites go go go!

I tackled the process the same as one would ‘bake a cake’! I know what that sounds like, but for me the principal is the important part here. You need ingredients. You need a recipe. You need a final product (one of those pictures in cooking books of the cake all beautifully done!)

So, here’s my ‘recipe’ that I followed to ‘bake’ these ‘cakes’…. the ingredients were as follows:

Brief, Groundwork, Creative, Growth, Launch and Continuation

THE BRIEF

With one part (the logos) in place one would think the next phase will just ‘fall in place’. Oh no. Not that quick and not that easy. A challenge though, which I always love.

It is imperative that you first need to talk about the look & feel. Although I had a good idea of what the company and the client stand for and how they would like to be perceived, there was still the need for a proper conversation so that I know I am on the right track for when I take to the ‘drawing board’ and start creating something. In this case the words slicksimple and striking came up immediately. (I personally like these 3 S-words!) Topics of discussion included their… target audiences, goals, content, resources and budgets. With a good BRIEF under my arm I went away to get the show on the road.

THE GROUNDWORK

Nothing is more important than planning. Once you work out a good plan it is much easier than to poke around in the dark. To kick the process off I did some research into sites of similar companies. I find it’s always good to know the competitors out there. This will eliminate duplication and drive one to be more creative. With mockups and a few ideas in my head a good brainstorming session with all involved delivered excellent results. I got some great feedback on suggestions for page layouts and usability. With the GROUNDWORK in place, it’s on the the next phase.

THE CREATIVE

I’ll admit this part is most probably my most exciting bit! The design part for me is a thrill! To configure colours, artwork and typography really get the CREATIVE ‘juices’ flowing! Visually the site needs to be appealing. Figuring out backgrounds, buttons and layouts to work across devices like tablets and mobile phones are exciting. Compatibility is a must in today’s world. It depends on the visitors which device will be used most so in this case it was very important that the mobile version of the site works smoothly. An outcome that I’m very happy with!

THE BUILD

Once armed with an abundance of visuals it is time to develop the site and make all the creative elements ‘come alive’. So it’s here where vision turns into reality. BUILDING a site with the given tools (however limited) of the chosen server can be really challenging. Nowadays there are so many servers to choose from that one is spoiled for choice. However, the client’s budget doesn’t always allow you to select your favourite to work with.  My motto is that it’s a server and I won’t let it control me – I will control it! Quite a bit of time can be spend manoeuvring and integrating the content. Understanding what can be done and not within the given server is order of the day. It can be frustrating sometimes, but the end result is what counts! And I believe I mastered it!

THE LAUNCH

This should be the most exciting part I think. However, it’s the most nerve recking for me. That moment where you click the ‘publish’ button for the LAUNCH is utterly worrying. I tend to test, test, test and test again! Make sure that links to external sites and email addresses work perfectly. There is nothing more embarrassing than finding out buttons to pages and other sites don’t work. I can’t stand that happening. Eventually the moment has arrived – and then… click! Voila! It’s live – and the site is kicking! I do like the bit where I can update the clients’ Twitter / Facebook / Instagram etc. with notifications that they are finally part of the web. It causes great satisfaction I will admit.

THE CONTINUATION

After a sigh of relief with the launch, the final part of this ‘recipe’ can be put in place – maintenance of the site. CONTINUING to update the content regularly with info and visuals is an ongoing service I provide. I keep an eye on how it functions and supply the client with SEO statistics of visitors: when it happened, from where and how often. Ensuring support (technically and creatively) in all areas is an important task and a great one too. It is very fulfilling to continue working within what I created. And great when the statistics prove that whatever I did was the right path to choose.

So, there – my ‘cake’ (aka website) is ‘baked’ (aka created) and ‘tastes’ (aka works) as good as the picture in the book! Or as they say… the proof lies in the ‘eating’ (aka looking)…

http://www.hyhmanagement.com

http://www.florenceblack.com